Monday, February 13, 2017

Love and Hearts

As it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow, the shops are full of cards with hearts, and heart-shaped balloons, cakes, chocolates, jewellery etc – because, of course, the heart is linked to love, and St. Valentine is the patron saint of love.

Throughout the ages, poetry and literature have concentrated on the heart as the centre of emotion, and there’s no doubt that the heart reacts to our feelings and reactions – it can thump, pound or thud, with emotions like shock, tension, fear, anticipation, excitement.

My characters’ hearts do all that, and more. I’ve learnt to be more restrained about their hearts after discovering (while editing one novel) that my heroine’s heart had not only thumped, pounded and thudded, but also jerked, jolted, jumped, and leapt (can the heart actually do those things?), and her heartbeat had accelerated, quickened, raced, skipped, missed a beat and done so many different things that she was in danger of an imminent heart attack.

And what about ‘heartache’ and ‘heartbreak’? Does the heart really ache? Can it actually break? The answer is probably no, but everyone knows what those words represent. In fact, a doctor actually gave Chief Joseph’s cause of death as being ‘of a broken heart’.

In the culture of all ages, the heart is everywhere, from the Roman poet Catullus with his heart ‘hardened’ (problem with his arteries?) to J.K.Rowling’s ‘The Warlock’s Hairy Heart’ (what??)

I’d actually contend that our emotions, feelings, and reactions come from our minds, but in romance novels, the heart continues be synonymous with love.

So I’ll leave you with a few quotations about hearts:

“The heart has its reasons which reason knows not.” (Blaise Pascal)

“A kiss makes the heart young again and wipes out the years.” (Rupert Brooke)

“Tears come from the heart and not from the brain.” (Leonardo da Vinci)

“The beauty of a woman must be seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.” (Audrey Hepburn)

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.” (Helen Keller)


  1. Great post, Paula!
    The heart yearns and burns, aches and breaks, swells, skips, flutters and withers all while beating like a machine.
    Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

    1. Some good words there, Ana. I've just used flutter in my current WIP!

  2. I love Helen Keller's and Audrey Hepburn's quotes.

    1. Audrey Hepburn's is my favourite quote, probably because I love eyes and how they can reflect emotions.

  3. I'm chuckling a bit, because an editor called me out once on those very things: my heroine's heart was doing way too many acrobatics.

    But it is a good way to convey emotion...I guess we just can't get carried away.

    I do agree that some of those 'heart' things are hypothetical, but I do think a heart can ache with sadness. If someone is deeply, emotionally hurt by something, there is a heaviness in the chest, akin to pain. At least that's what I've experienced.

    1. The hypothetical heart things are interesting, showing how we associate the heart with so many different emotions. You're right, though, that pain can be felt in the chest (and stomach) rather than the actual heart.
      And I have to stop myself from overusing nerves and nerve endings too!

  4. Some great words there to show emotions and the heart is the place we all focus on. I can't really imagine romance being the same if the liver fluttered or the kidney throbbed. We'd be rushing our heroine or hero to the nearest hospital!

  5. Livers and kidneys don't have quite the same 'ring' to them them as hearts, do they? :-)